What You Lose When You Buy Something on Sale by @cluttershrink

The True Cost of Sale Itemsby Crystal Sabalaske | Featured Contributor 

Most of us get a short burst of adrenaline when we snatch up a bargain. So many of us even brag about how little we paid for coveted items. We respond to compliments with, “Thanks. I can’t believe I only paid $10 for this designer sweater.” Have you ever found yourself texting a picture of your fabulous find to a friend because you want her to share in your excitement too?

Sale items are often impulse buys. According to the Impulse Shopping Fact sheet, “88% of all impulse purchases are made because an item is on sale.” We walk out of the store with a bag in hand doing our mental math, smiling to ourselves and calculating our savings.

Are we really saving though? Are the items we’re buying on sale things we even need? If we don’t need them in the first place, wouldn’t we all be better off financially if we just didn’t buy them at all?

Don’t worry. I’m not judging. I’m a sucker for a good sale just like the rest of us, but I think my job as a professional organizer has given me a different perspective on how and why sale items often cost us more. More what, you ask? More time, more space and certainly more money.

How does something you buy on sale end up costing you so much more?

Sale items often cost us more because they lead to other purchases. Most of these purchases are also impulse purchases. We figure we save so much money on the sale item that we have a little extra to spend on something else. Perhaps that extra something is a $4 beverage with a jolt of caffeine. Maybe it’s the same item in a different color. The thrill of the find often results in a quest to find more bargains. The next thing we know, we’re walking lopsided in the mall suffering with back pain due to the weight of our shopping bags. Sale items = more money spent.

When you eventually make it home, you’re faced with the task of where to put all of your new purchases. It’s time to make space, and if you’re like most of my clients, storage space is something you really wish you could find on sale. I can’t even count the number of times a client has said to me, “I have to keep that. I got it on sale.” or “Do you know how much that would have been if I paid full price? I’ll never find it on sale again.” At least 60% of the time though, the sale items are in unopened boxes or still have price tags on them, probably because the items were never needed in the first place. Sale items often cause storage problems. Overcrowded storage often leads to misplaced or damaged items. When you can’t find or access what you have, that’s when you’re more likely to buy duplicate items, and there you are, spending even more money – again. Sale items = more required storage space.

If you bring things into your home, you then have to take care of them. If they’re clothes, you wash them. If they’re decorative items, you dust them. Electronics, small appliances and exercise equipment all require maintenance and cleaning too. When you buy any item, you may feel like you’re giving yourself a gift, but what you’re really giving yourself is another job. The less you have, the less you have to maintain. That’s why you’ll rarely hear a minimalist telling you that she is spending her weekend cleaning out the garage. Sale items = more time required for maintenance.

I’m all about finding a great price on something I need, but after organizing for others for 13 years, I have seen the financial, physical, and emotional toll that too much stuff can have on people.

“I have too many items I bought on sale” is a common common theme for most of the clients with whom I work. If you stop to evaluate how sale items continuously drain financial, space and time resources, it’s easy to see how they often cost us much more than we ever anticipate when we take out our wallets to make a purchase.


Crystal SabalaskeCrystal Sabalaske, professional organizer and owner of Cluttershrink, has been helping people get organized in their homes and offices since 2002. She has appeared on several episodes of HGTV’s series, Mission: Organization, and her organizing tips have appeared in national publications such as Family Fun, Parents, and Women’s Health magazines.

Crystal’s philosophy about organizing involves making simple changes based on an individual’s needs at work and at home. While she is committed to getting job done, she’s not at all serious and tries infuse the process of organizing with a little bit of fun.

Being organized saves time, money, and relationships, and when you maximize the potential in those aspects of your life, you have more time to focus on doing things that truly make you happy. For Crystal, those activities involve singing, reading, taking walks, spending time with her family, making up twisted tunes, brainstorming about her next business idea, and drinking iced tea.

In addition to hands-on home and office organizing, Crystal shares her passion for organizing by offering virtual coaching for individuals and workshops for business and social groups. She also offers relocation organizing services and thinks that after moving 18 times, she knows what it takes to get the job done right. If you really want to get Crystal fired up, just ask her to speak about organizing your kitchen for food allergies. She helps her family manage 19 of them!

Crystal is always enthusiastic to share organizing tips and strategies via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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